2010 Plant Delights Nursery April Newsletter

Dear PDN’ers:

Greetings from PDN, where we’re in the midst of a wonderful spring season. Although we had a short hot spell early in April, overall, it’s been a very nice spring for the plants. Because of our prolonged cold winter and the lack of a late spring frost, we had one of the best magnolia seasons in memory, and now the perennials are bursting forth with amazing vigor. Without question, we’ve also had the best peony season ever.and it’s not even over yet. We continue our peony trials for varieties that will grow and flower well, even in the low-chill southeast. Our offerings reflect the best of those trials that we have been able to make available so far.

Our hostas in the garden are also looking great this spring.mainly because we focused our efforts on improving the soil and moisture where we grow them in the garden. We discovered early on that hostas do not thrive in sandy soils, even when compost is added. Once we added a small bit of clay to our mix however, their performance improved dramatically. Hostas also perform much better when they are grown in either morning sun, or very open high shade. They really don’t fare very well in deep, dry shade.

Of course, we don’t want all hostas to get large, hence several new miniature offerings this spring. Since the wildly popular Hosta ‘Blue Mouse Ears’ was introduced in 2000, growers have been looking for new variegated sports of this gem. We are pleased to offer three this season, each of which has its own personality and will make a delightful small clump in the garden. These include Hosta ‘Frosted Mouse Ears’, Hosta ‘Mighty Mouse’, and Hosta ‘Pure Heart’. Although our photos of Hosta ‘Frosted Mouse Ears’ and Hosta ‘Mighty Mouse’ look similar, they are not. In spring, Hosta ‘Mighty Mouse’ has a much brighter edge, while Hosta ‘Frosted Mouse Ears’ has a chartreuse border. Small hostas aren’t for everyone, but if you enjoy these cuties and can keep them from getting overrun in the garden, they are really quite superb.

I love the flush of spring iris, first the woodland dwarf Iris cristata, followed by two other shade lovers, Iris japonica and Iris tectorum. Now, we are just getting off to a great start with the fabulous Louisiana iris. The first few have just opened, with more to follow by this weekend. While Louisiana iris are great right out of the southern US swamps, you would be amazed what breeders have been able to do in terms of flower size and flower colors… to the point that Louisiana iris is now a rival of Siberian and Japanese iris. I was talking with Kelly Norris of the American Iris Society when he visited last fall about how badly people underestimate the winter hardiness of the Louisiana Iris. Just because they were born in the Deep South doesn’t mean they don’t fare well further north.

Another plant that impresses me more each year is Ligularia japonica. Our hot summers render us a ligularia-deprived climate, unless you still consider farfugiums to be ligularias. While ligularias are very important landscape staple in the northeast, their bold-textured form is sadly absent from the southeast, with the exception of Ligularia japonica. We’re still not sure how far south they can go, but certainly into Zone 8 and possibly further. So far, we have offered material from Japanese genetics, but we have a new crop for next year of Chinese native material, thanks to a 2005 collection from our friend Hans Hansen. Because of their large leaves, ligularias prefer soils that stay a bit on the moist side.

This spring, we’ve been working with the folks at Floating Islands Southeast www.floatingislandse.com to install one of their floating islands in our rain garden retention pond. With their help, it has just been planted, so we look forward to having it fill in as the season progresses.we invite you to watch as it develops. If you aren’t familiar with their products, the islands, made of recycled plastic bottles, etc., are designed be planted and then float in ponds as a nutrient bioretention filter.

Speaking of Open House, it’s already time for our Spring Open House. I know many of you missed the Winter Open House in February due to cold weather, but I hope you will be able to visit with us during our Spring Open House, which starts this today and continues next weekend also.

I normally don’t take off on overseas plant exploration trips in April, but this year was an exception as I was fortunate to spend a week in early April botanizing on the Greek island of Crete. Over the last few years, we noticed how well many of the plants from Crete were performing well in our garden, so we decided to see what other plants might have good garden potential. We were quite amazed at the botanical crossover including three North Carolina natives which are also native in Crete.despite our non-Mediterranean, wet-summer climate. If you’d like to travel vicariously with us, without leaving the comfort of home, we have posted our expedition log with images on-line at www.plantdelights.com/Tony/crete.php.

In the nursery world, we regret to report that Jane Bath’s Georgia nursery, Land Arts, has closed its doors after 18 years in business, although Jane’s landscape business remains open. You may remember Jane’s most famed plant introduction, the wildly popular, Dianthus ‘Bath’s Pink’.

Bad news in the nursery industry continued this month when George W. Park Seed Company (which includes Wayside Gardens) filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection on April 2. Park Seed also operates two affiliate businesses, Park Seed Wholesale and Jackson and Perkins Direct Marketing (Roses), which were also included in the filing. Park has 120 days to present a plan for restructuring for long term success, or the assets will be sold to pay off its debts. In the meantime, it’s business as usual. There is always the option that another firm will purchase the company and try to keep it running.

For those who may not know much about the company’s history, George W. Park Seed Company began business in 1868, and started their wholesale division a few years later in 1870. Wayside Gardens opened in 1920 and operated until 1975, when it was purchased by Park Seed and moved from Mentor, Ohio to Greenwood, SC. Jackson and Perkins, was founded in 1872, and was subsequently purchased in 1966 by Harry and David Co., who owned it until 2007.

Park Seed was still run by members of the Park family until a “hostile takeover” in 2008. Don and Glenda Hachenberger, first obtained a 50% stake of Park Seed and Wayside Gardens in 2005, when they financed Karen Park Jennings takeover of the nursery in a family squabble, from her brother Leonard Park. As the Park stable of businesses began to decline, the Hachenberger’s were able to acquire 100% ownership in 2008. In 2007, they (technically J & P Acquisitions, a company made up of Don and Glenda Hachenberger and their children’s trust fund) also purchased Jackson and Perkins from Harry and David for 21 million dollars, and moved its operations to Greenwood, South Carolina. All four companies were are currently operated under the Park Seed umbrella, and since neither Wayside, Jackson and Perkins, or Park Wholesale have staff, all the work is performed by the employees of Park Seed.

In 2009 alone, sales of the Park Seed umbrella companies declined a whopping 29%, from 61.6 million to 43.7 million. The worst decline was from Park/Wayside (35%), Jackson and Perkins (30%), and Park Wholesale (15%). In addition to the current bankruptcy issues, the Hachenberger’s investment group was also sued for breech of contract by Harry and David in June of last year, and again in February of 2010.

The Park family of companies, while owned by Don and Glenda Hachenberger, who are in the midst of divorce proceedings (never a good thing), are run by Furman graduate, Charles (Chas) Fox. Chas’s bio indicates that he played three years in the NFL, before getting into the horticulture business. Interestingly all of the NFL sources that I’ve checked with, indicated that he only played 4 games in 1986 as a receiver with the St. Louis Cardinals (now the Arizona Cardinals). Fox is also president of Southern Sun Biosystems, a venture capital-funded company that he co-founded to sell high dollar propagation systems. Although Southern Sun Biosystems was a financial bust, Fox was also able to sell his company to the Hachenbergers, who it seems were looking for a quick way to shed some extra cash. Chas also started the now defunct Knox Nursery in South Carolina.

You can read more about the Park Seed story, including comments from readers and even some Park Seed staff in the Greenwood Index Journal.

There is a small charge to access their archives, but in summary, many of the posters seem to think that Park’s problems are more of a management issue than an economic one. This theme is also echoed in the on-line comments posted on the Garden Watchdog forum. Regardless of the cause, the Park family of companies are a very important part of the mail order nursery industry and a large employer in the Greenwood area. We wish them the best of luck in turning their ship around and returning to their glory days.

In the “I’m from the government and I’m here to help” file this month is the government caused shortage of tree bark for both homeowners and the nursery industry. So, why should we care about bark? Only because virtually every nursery in the US uses a potting mix that is primarily pine bark. In its efforts to promote green energy, and since free market economics don’t make the use of biofuels logical, USDA started a biomass fuel subsidy program with your tax dollars, which now threatens the availability of bark for the nursery industry. In February, The Farm Security Administration Biomass Crops Assistance Program (BCAP) set a subsidy rate of $45 per ton for woody biomass, which would mean that the price of pine bark could easily double or triple, which will affect both availability and affordability for nurseries, that are already struggling because of the recession. The American Nursery and Landscape Association is working with USDA in the hopes that someone with common sense will listen. And who is it that doesn’t think we don’t need lobbyists to prevent ridiculous legislation such as this?

We’ve had our own little fiasco this spring, when we discovered that we had used a defective batch of nursery fertilizer last summer and fall. It seemed that the slow release fertilizer that we used from late July through October had a defective coating that caused the fertilizer to dump all the nutrients at once during the middle of the winter. We first noticed the problem in late winter when some crops in the nursery started declining and dying. The problem worsened as we neared spring, and many plants that should have emerged didn’t. Testing of the affected crops revealed extraordinarily high levels of salts. We contacted representatives of the fertilizer manufacturer, who have worked with us and agreed that the fertilizer is indeed the culprit, but that doesn’t bring the plants back to life. To this point, the casualty count is over 5,000 plants. As you can imagine, this has caused us to be sold out of many plants that were in plentiful supply in the fall, many of which you had already ordered and paid for. For those who ordered plants so affected, we sincerely apologize, and appreciate your patience as we repropagate those items which could be re-propagated and refund for those whose propagation isn’t feasible or timely.

Marco
Marco Van Noort
One of the plants that we have extolled the virtues of is Geranium ‘Rozanne’ PP 12,175. Well, there has been an ongoing controversy with a look-a-like called Geranium ‘Jolly Bee’, which finally reached a conclusion. Geranium ‘Rozanne’ was patented in the US on February 25, 1999. Less than a year later, in January 18, 2000, a similar seedling from Holland’s Marco Van Noort hit the market, named Geranium ‘Jolly Bee’ PP 12,148. All of us who had grown both varieties, agreed that they were extremely similar, but not exactly the same.we chose to sell G. ‘Rozanne’. Both varieties were issued a US patent, since Van Noort did not include Geranium ‘Jolly Bee’ as the closest similar variety on his patent application, which he was required to do by law. Blooms of Bressingham, which has the marketing rights to Geranium ‘Rozanne’ filed a patent infringement suit against Van Noort. The bitter dispute lasted over seven years, and Van Noort recently gave up after spending over 200,000 Euros. DNA tests showed that the two varieties were indeed similar, but not the same. Heck, I could have told them that for far less money. Van Noort has agreed to stop sales of Geranium ‘Jolly Bee’ after July 1, 2010.

Again, we truly thank you for your business.

Please direct all replies and questions to office@plantdelights.com.

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Thanks and enjoy

-tony

2009 Plant Delights Nursery February Newsletter

Greetings from Plant Delights! We hope everyone is coping well with a winter that, at best, brings back memories of winters past. Parts of central and southern Florida have endured abnormal freezes, while much of the Midwest was hit with a devastating ice storm leaving them without power for up to a week. Here in Juniper Level, we saw a low of 9 degrees F on January 16 … the lowest temperature in 5 years. Some of our test agaves bit the dust, but all of the plants that have been out in the gardens for years made it through fine. We’ll report later on the freeze damage as it continues to show. Don.t be fooled into thinking plants which look great the day after a freeze are all fine, since damage often takes a month or more to show up.

One of the most intriguing physiological reactions to cold weather is how evergreen plants change the pressure in their cell walls to cope with low temperatures. It’s interesting to venture out on very cold mornings to see plants such as aspidistra, trillium, and rohdea appear as small piles of melted blackened mush. Once the temperature rises, however, the cells return to normal, the stomata (leaf breathing apparatus) reopen, and the plant miraculously bounces back. Gardeners in colder climates have no doubt noticed this on rhododendrons, which similarly curl their leaves on cold nights to reduce water loss.

For those who have pushed palms past their recommended zones, you may be seeing some damage now in regions which have experienced near normal winter temperatures for the first time in many years. Three types of palm damage occurs … foliar burn, spear pull, and the call of the grim reaper.

Foliar burn occurs when the foliage turns a sickly pale grey green … usually about 3-4 weeks after the freeze event. Some very tender palm foliage will turn brown the morning after the freeze, but this is much less common. Trachycarpus latisectus and T. martianus are good examples of palms that we grow as dieback perennials. These damaged leaves will not recover, but the plant should resume growing normally in spring. I would not cut the damage leaves until the growth resumes vigorously during spring. In our experience, spear pull usually occurs without widespread leaf burn. In this case, a slight tug on the new growth results in the top few developing leaves coming out in your hand. In most cases, the plant will survive. I prefer to leave the damaged spear leaves intact until spring, when they can be removed to allow air to reach the damaged tissue and prevent rot. Some growers find a fungicide helpful, although I have never resorted to this. To prevent damage, some palm growers like to clothespin the new leaves together which seems to help. The older a palm gets, the less likely it is to have spear pull damage, which is why some palm growers prefer to grow them indoors until they reach a 3-5 gallon size. Since we grow only small-sized palms, we plant ours at a smaller size and consequently experience more spear pull until the plants gain some age. Palm death is pretty easy to recognize as a complete tissue meltdown, resulting in a pile of mush and the accompanying smell of rotting plant flesh. That being said, if there is any doubt, leave it alone … it doesn’t cost anything to wait until spring and see.

We have spent much of the last decade assembling an excellent array of hellebores and in 2006, we added a Winter Open House to showcase these and other wonderful plants that strut their stuff in the winter garden. Instead of starting our own breeding program, we relied on the work of others including John Elsley of SC, Dick and Judith Tyler of VA, Dan Hinkley of WA, Ernie and Marietta O’Byrne of OR, and John Massey of Ashwood Nursery in the UK. We pick outstanding selections from these breeders work, and plant them together in the garden. We find by planting color forms about 20′ from each other, we can lessen (not eliminate) cross pollination between colors.

After flowering, hellebore seed is gathered in June and July and sown immediately in containers of potting soil … fresh sowing is very important for good germination. Unlike many other seed, hellebore seed will not germinate until it has been subjected to cold temperatures (stratification). We leave hellebore seed pots outdoors until they begin to germinate … usually early-mid January for H. x hybridus. These seedlings are then transplanted at the two leaf stage into cell packs where they remain for a couple of months, at which time they are shifted up into 1 qt pots. The key is to push the hellebores at this early stage to get as much growth as possible while the weather is cool, since hellebores go into a semi-dormant state in summer. The more growth you get in early spring, the better the chance of them flowering the following spring. Because of the cool temperatures in the Pacific Northwest, they are able to get a much higher percentage of plants to flower during the first season than here in the Southeast.

In summer, it’s just a matter of keeping the hellebores alive in containers … a real chore in the Southeast. One secret we discovered is to switch to an aluminized shade cloth compared to the typical black shade cloth. Even with the same percentage of shade, the aluminized cloth keeps the greenhouse nearly 10 degrees cooler, so the plants actually survive the summer. Before we switched shade cloth types, we would loose between 90 and 100% of our entire hellebore crop during the summer. Regardless of your economics, it’s hard to make money that way. We lost so many hellebores before we switched, we probably still haven’t broken even on them.

In late fall, the hellebores begin growing again and we typically expect to get 10% to flower the first season and the remainder in season two. Starting a couple of years ago, we switched our emphasis to grow plants that have flowered before we sell them. As I mentioned, this usually requires keeping the plants for an extra season and also includes the time required to sort through all the hellebores on a weekly basis during the flowering season and group them by flower color. Granted, the economics are probably better to sell the plants before flowering, but we hope the added value is worthwhile to you as a gardener.

As a homeowner, you can certainly allow the seed to fall from your hellebores and sprout in the garden, but keep mind it will generally take 3 to 4 years for these plants to flower and if you’re looking for a particular color pattern in your planting scheme, this may not be the best idea. We hope you will enjoy our amazing selections. As a reminder, our Winter Open House this year is Friday and Saturday from 8 am to 5 pm on February 27 and 28 and March 6 and 7. Click here to find out more about visiting.

Another winter grower we got into in a big way about a decade ago are trillium. As we studied the genus, we realized two things … first, most of the plants sold in the US were collected from the wild for sale and secondly, no one was focusing on the Southeastern species.

When outcry arose in the US about wild collecting trillium for sale, many of the commercial harvesters went underground and so, soon began a large business in trillium laundering. Plants were dug in the wild (usually Tennessee and Arkansas), then sold to large wholesale growers and brokers in Europe. The European growers operate on the military policy of ‘Don’t ask, Don’t tell.’ The trillium are then being re-exported back into the US, where there is plausible deniability and the trail of these wild collections have gone cold. I should add, however, that in most cases, trillium are anything but rare in the wild, and where land is being cleared or sustainably harvested, I see no reason why trillium could not be harvested and sold … although that is not the direction we decided to head into.

As I mentioned, most of the collectors were only selling the ‘northern’ species including T. grandiflorum, T. luteum, T. erectum, T. vaseyi, and a few others. As we began to study trillium, we realized there were a number of species that were completely ignored. As a rule, most of these are the sessile type, which means the flower sits directly atop the leaf, as compared the pedicellate trillium, where a short stem (pedicel) attaches the flower to the leaf.

We began a series of treks through the southern states studying trillium and bringing back individual samples to grow and propagate. As you can imagine, this is a slow process since all trillium in our climate take 4 to 5 years to grow from seed. Each plant is hand-pollinated and then the seeds are sown directly in the ground after harvest. Like hellebores, the seed must be sown fresh. Four years later, seed from those plants are harvested and sown and four years later, we finally have enough to sell. We have even found that the rare solid-silver leaved variants, which we have found in almost all of the southern species, come amazingly true from seed. It is our belief that we now have the largest seed-grown commercial trillium production in the country. One of the advantages of growing tens of thousands of trillium is we are able to select some amazing seedlings which will then be propagated for introduction in the future. We hope you appreciate the time and energy involved in making these special plants available.

Of these southern trillium, the first to emerge in winter is Trillium underwoodii from the Florida Panhandle. For us this form of T. underwoodii emerges often in early January, and is amazingly resilient after cold snaps, including our recent 9 degree F freeze which found a few clones in full flower. Too many freezes when the plant is fully expanded will result in the foliage becoming tattered while also eliminating the possibility of seed. The second to emerge is T. foetidissimum, followed by T. ludovicianum in mid- to late-January. Next in line in late January is T. maculatum, the Florida Panhandle forms of T. lancifolium, and then the Gulf Coast forms of T. gracile in early February. The same species originating in a more northern locale maintains its genetics for later emergence even when moved. A classic example is the Alabama form of T. underwoodii, which emerges 2 to 3 months after the Florida form when grown side by side. Finally, Trillium decumbens, T. cuneatum, T. ooestingii break the ground in March, followed by the northerly forms of T. lancifolium and T. recurvatum in late March. Most of the early sessile trillium have emerged, before being joined by the first of the southeastern pedicellate species including T. pusillum in late March and T. catesbiae in early April. I know some of you wonder why we bother to put origin information on many of our offerings, but this often makes the difference between success and failure with these southeastern natives in some of the more northern climates. Over the years, we will continue to add a tremendous array of different species from different populations. If you would like to learn more about trillium, there are two great books on the subject. Trillums by Fred and Roberta Case, and Trilliums in Woodland and Garden: American Treasures by Don and Rob Jacobs.

If you’re like me, you’ve recently sworn off news shows, since watching too much of the incessant gloom and doom serves as a self-fulfilling prophecy. In some good news, however, a recent study reported in the UK Daily Telegraph, documented that: ‘As little as 30 minutes a week tending the garden or allotment can dramatically improve men’s performance in bed, according to the experts in the field. Digging, weeding or mowing the lawn for half an hour reduced men’s risk of failing to live up to expectations in bed by more than a third, the survey found. Men who spend even more time in the vegetable patch can more than halve their risk of impotence, researchers at the Medical University of Vienna found in their study…Erectile function can be maintained even by low, regular physical activity, concludes the report. Energy expenditure of as little as 1,000 calories a week reduces the risk. Doctors should use these findings to encourage their patients to do more physical training and adopt a healthier lifestyle…The latest study, published in the journal European Urology, shows men do not have to be keep-fit fanatics to reap the benefits and need to burn just 1,000 calories a week. This reduced impotence by around 38 per cent, the research showed… Men who burned off up to 4,000 kilocalories a week saw their impotence risk drop almost 52 per cent.

You can read the entire article by clicking this link … then get off the couch and get back in the garden!

In upcoming events (the same weekend as our 2nd Spring Open House), the Middle Atlantic Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society would like to invite you to ‘Gardening at the Peaks’ from May 8-10 at the Holiday Inn Tanglewood in Roanoke, Virginia. The meeting will feature tours of two amazing gardens, Paul James mountain garden just south of Ronoake along with the Glebe Hill garden of Gary and Carol Osbourne. If you haven’t visited either of these gardens, you’re in for a real treat. Paul keeps hinting about restricting tours of his world class plant collection (6000+ species), so this may be one of the last chances to see this amazing gardening treasure. In addition, the two speakers include Kristine Johnson of the Great Smokey Mountains National Park and Virginia’s own garden writer and photographer extraordinaire Pamela Harper. To register for the meeting, contact Sharon Horn at oldturnpikefarm@gmail.com or by phone at 540.350.2666.

Those involved in wholesaling or retailing perennials, no doubt know the name Dale Hendricks. Dale and his business partner Steve Castorani started Pennsylvania’s North Creek Nurseries in 1988 (the same year PDN started) as a wholesale source of perennials, with a focus on US natives. As of December 30, Dale has retired from the business and sold his ownership stake to his business partner, Steve. As part of Dale’s mid-life crisis, Dale tells me he realized that he enjoyed the plants rather than running a business that had become very large and extremely successful … a common problem among ex-hippies. Along with spending more time with his family, Dale has already started a small backyard business called Green Light Plants to organically grow a few special plants for his former business. Dale will also be spending time on the board of the Community Gardens of Chester County, and in his spare time will continue speaking and doing nursery consulting. Even if you’ve never heard of Dale before, you have no doubt grown some of his plants or felt his considerable influence on the horticultural world. If you see a display that says ‘American Beauties’ at your local garden center, that’s all thanks to Dale. From all of us at PDN, we’d like to salute Dale and wish him the best of luck in his new life.

While we’re giving out pats on the back, we’d like to also congratulate plantsman Hans Hansen of Minnesota for winning the first Todd Bachman Award, (named after the nursery CEO killed at the 2008 Beijing Olympics), given by the Minnesota Landscape Association to someone under 40 years old who has demonstrated innovation in business, marketing, horticultural production, floral, or landscape practices in the horticulture industry. Hans has spent the last 17 years as manager of the tissue culture lab of Shady Oaks Nursery in Minnesota. Hans is a pioneer in working with many tissue cultured plants, being the first to successfully culture variegated agaves, arisaemas, and a number of other plants as well as being the first to tetraploid hosta in vitro. His hosta introduction are consistently ranked among the top in the field. He has also participated in a number of plant exploration trips, resulting in many of the plants you find in the pages of our catalog. Embarking on a new phase of his career, Hans departed Shady Oaks in fall and will be joining another firm by spring. We offer our heartfelt thanks for all of Hans’s work and wish him best of luck in his new venture.

If you’ve created or discovered the next million dollar plant and don’t know where to turn to get started, one of the important steps, once you determine that your plant is a good candidate for the market, is to obtain a plant patent. There are a number of avenues from using a patent lawyer to using a patent agent with a wide range of prices. A large number of the new perennials hitting the market are being patented by a small firm in Minnesota, run by a friend and former Minnesota nurserywoman and now patent agent, Penny Aguirre of Biological Patent Services. There are quite a few plants we offer whose patents have been handled by Penny, so if you find yourself in need of such services, you can contact Penny at pennyag@earthlink.net. We don’t get any kickback from this, but are only providing this as one option with which we are very familiar.

Chances are you’ve never heard of the Keith Arboretum, but if you like woody plants, I’d recommend you fix that deficiency. I remember back in the 1980s when the late JC Raulston first led me to Charlie Keith’s garden in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. JC was fascinated with the tree collection Charlie had assembled. Fast forward 20+ years when Mike Dirr finally made the pilgrimage, only to be equally as blown away by Charlie’s collection. In fact, it was Mike who encouraged Charlie to preserve the garden for future generations, resulting in the establishment of The Keith Arboretum. If you’re in the area, Charlie is looking for volunteers to help with labeling. You can find out more at www.keitharboretum.org. I hope you’ll take the opportunity to learn more about this incredibly special world-class collection of trees.

If you keep up with national news, you may remember the December 19, 2008 construction accident at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. While under construction, a temporarily-elevated walk linking the garden to the adjacent Piedmont Park collapsed, killing one construction worker and injuring 18 others. An investigation is continuing, but the garden tells us the construction work will continue. As of mid-January, all of the injured men were out of the hospital and able to walk, with none suffering permanent brain damage. The garden in conjunction with the contractor, Hardin Construction Company has set up the Jonquil Fund to help the workers and their families. So far, over $70,000 has been raised. If you’d like to contribute to this fund, visit the gardens website at www.atlantabotanicalgarden.org.

Our condolences also go out to Lori Kordner and her family, in the death of her husband, Tim (age 49), who took his life on Jan. 21. Tim was a local radio and television gardening personality who ran a garden center known as Brewery Creek in Belle Plaine, MN for 30+ years and who regularly sold produce at the Minneapolis and St. Paul farmers markets. In addition, Tim had recently increased his focus on peonies when he purchased the entire breeding collection of intersectional peonies from retired peony breeder, Roger Anderson (P. ‘Bartzella’). Tim’s peony nursery, Century Oaks Peonies, was just on tour last summer with the American Peony Society.

Last month, I mentioned the death of Eddie McRae and that his wife Judith, ran her own lily nursery, but I got the name wrong. Her nursery is The Lily Garden and not The Lily Nook, which is a Canadian firm…sorry.

While I’m correcting errors, crinum expert Jay Yourch noticed we had mistakenly used the wrong image for Crinum ‘Summer Nocturne’ in our spring catalog. The correct image is now on-line, but unfortunately, we can’t change the printed catalog … those darn gremlins.

Before I close, I’d like to remind everyone that February 15 is the deadline for entering our Top 25 contest for 2009. It doesn’t cost anything to enter and you’ve got a chance to win our $250 gift certificate. Follow this link to the contest rules and entry form.

As with all businesses, 2009 is not getting off to a banner start for many of us in the nursery business as we brace ourselves for making for many sleepless nights and difficult decisions. Once again, we would like to sincerely thank those of you who have placed orders and plan to do so this year. We’re working on writing descriptions for some new plants that will make their way onto the website shortly … we’ll send you an email when they’re posted. Many nurseries are hanging on by a thread and unless business picks up soon, many of your favorites may not be around for future seasons.

Again, we thank you for your support!

Please direct all replies and questions to office@plantdelights.com.

Thanks and enjoy

-tony